Sanshiro by Natsume Soseki; Haruki Murakami (intr.)

By Natsume Soseki; Haruki Murakami (intr.)

Natsume Soseki's merely coming-of-age novel, Sanshiro depicts the eponymous twenty-three-year-old protagonist as he leaves the sleepy geographical region to wait a school within the continuously relocating "real global" of Tokyo. Baffled and occupied with the site visitors, the lecturers, and-most of all-the ladies, Sanshiro needs to locate his manner one of the sophisticates that fill his new existence. An incisive social and cultural statement, Sanshiro is usually a sophisticated portrait of old flame, culture, and modernization, and the idealism of stripling opposed to the cynicism of heart age.

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Professor Hirota’s Nishikatamachi ten, block F, number three). 1907 (40) January: Publishes short novel, Nowaki (“Autumn Wind”) in Hototogisu, much ranting against the rich, called by some the best novel of 1907. 24 February: Asahi Shinbun newspaper inquires if he might consider becoming a staff novelist. Negotiations continue until 15 March (government sponsorship of foreign study obligates him to teach until this month). ¥200 monthly salary higher than editor-in-chief’s, book royalties are his to keep, all fiction to be serialized in the Asahi.

1910 (43) 1 March–12 June: Serialization of Mon (‘The Gate’), dark culmination of trilogy that began with Sanshirō; protagonist fails to find comfort in religion. 2 March: Fifth daughter, Hinako, born. June–February: Suffering with stomach ulcers, nearly dies at Shuzenji Hot Spring on 24–25 August, hospitalized until February 1911. June–January: Government crushes leftist political and literary activity in trumped-up “High Treason Incident,” execution of prominent socialists; decade-long “winter years” of socialism begin.

If something unexpected occurs, Sanshirō merely feels surprised or moved or baffled or impressed. In Tokyo, Sanshirō re-encounters Professor Hirota, the man he chanced to meet on the train, and he comes to regard him as a kind of mentor. There is little hint, however, that Sanshirō feels anything like a resolve to learn something important from the older man as someone who has preceded him to a (seemingly) superior state in life. He simply observes the Professor the same way he would watch a majestic cloud sailing through the sky.

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